Committed to Green
In September of 2008, the Shorenorth co-op board renewed its promise to “think globally and act locally.” We started by establishing a “Green Team.” This team examined the school’s classrooms from top to bottom to ensure environmentally friendly practices and a safe and healthy setting for our families. The team’s first recommended change, a shoe-free policy, was implemented in order to avoid tracking harmful chemicals from the outdoors onto the floors where the kids crawl and play. Air quality was also addressed by using a VOC-free paint product for painting the classrooms and using building materials that do not off-gas harmful fumes.
In October of 2008, the Green Team requested a visit from the Local Hazardous Waste Management Program in King County. A representative from the program came to the school and looked at everything from cleaning products to art supplies. Several recommendations were made, and the program provided the school with a $500 matching fund voucher to be used toward improving the school environment. With these funds, Shorenorth purchased HEPA filter vacuums and replaced hazardous cleaning supplies with non-toxic alternatives.
In February of 2009, King County provided a free on-site test of air quality and circulation to assess for humidity and carbon dioxide levels. High measurements of these can be detrimental to health and learning abilities. According to the report the air in our classroom was “pristine”! That same year, Shorenorth received a two-year certificate of endorsement as an “Eco-Healthy Child Care” facility from the Oregon Environmental Council (www.oeconline.org/our-work/kidshealth/ehcc), making the school one of only four facilities in King County to voluntarily participate in this program.
Since these initial milestones, Shorenorth has continued to follow best green practices. For example, we regularly compost food waste and paper towels; recycle paper, metal, and plastic materials; and encourage our older students to reduce their production of garbage and sort whatever garbage they do make. In this and many other ways, we teach children into becoming conscious, caring stewards of the earth.